Keita: Messi is a machine
Messi's hat-trick in last night's 4-1 victory over Malaga in La Liga took his tally to 68 goals in all competitions this season, passing the previous best European mark of 67 set by Gerd Muller for Bayern Munich in 1972/73.
It also took the 24-year-old onto 46 in the league alone this season, six more than Cristiano Ronaldo netted in winning the European Golden Shoe last season and one behind the record mark set by Dinamo Bucharest's Dudu Georgescu in claiming the award in 1977. Ronaldo has also netted 44 times in the Spanish top flight this term.
Both Barça and Real have two more league games left, while the Catalan club also have the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao to come.
Keita said of Messi, who earlier this year became Barcelona's all-time record goalscorer, on his club's official website: "Leo is a star, he gets better every day and every match. We're lucky to have him in the team because he's a machine."
Messi's ninth hat-trick of the season for Barcelona came on a night which ultimately saw the club surrender their league title to Real, who beat Athletic Bilbao later in the evening to gain an unassailable lead at the summit.
Players praise outgoing Pep
The match at Camp Nou was also an emotional one as Barça played their first home game since Pep Guardiola confirmed his intention to step down at the end of the season. Guardiola, who has won 13 trophies in four years in charge, has decided not to renew his contract when it expires on 30 June. He will be succeeded by his assistant, Tito Vilanova.
"Pep has given everything to this club," said Keita. "He's won a lot of titles. It's a source of pride for the supporters and the club to have him. Thank you, Pep."
Midfielder Ibrahim Afellay added: "It's a shame because, for me, he's one of the best coaches in the world, and as well as that he's a great person. I understand his decision because Barça are a very big club and it drains you. Tito will be a similar coach to Guardiola."
Centre-back Marc Bartra, one of numerous youth team players who Guardiola has brought through to the senior set-up, remarked: "We're hurt by the news about Pep, we all thought he was going to stay, but when we found out that Tito was going to coach us, we were very happy, because the commitment to the youth system will continue."